Viola, D.J. (Director) Biography; Kisstory (TV Special)

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: August 2021

Released: 2021, A&E Biography.

Rating: 4/5

Reviewer: JP

There is an American television channel called Arts And Entertainment (or A&E for short) and for many years, dating back to 1960, they have been producing a series called Biography’.  It is essentially a documentary series about anything under the sun, including bands.   In June, 2021 Biography presented a three-hour series about Kiss called Kisstory.  This new documentary tied in nicely with the re-launch of the sixth leg of the ‘End Of The Road Tour’.

Normally I don’t review TV shows about Hard Rock and Metal for a couple of reasons.  One, there is no physical product to correspond with it.  So I can’t really recommend a TV show. You usually can’t go buy it.   Either you saw it when it was broadcast (or maybe if you are lucky re-run) or you didn’t.  Until relatively recently TV shows could not be captured unless maybe you taped them on VCR.   Now a doc like this may turn up on re-runs, streaming channels or maybe even Youtube.

The second reason is that to actually have a Hard Rock or Metal band featured on a TV show (that is not a specialty music channel) is extremely rare.  In this case the A&E network has profiled over 1000 subjects and the number of Hard Rock or Metal bands featured you can count on one hand.  Accordingly, KISSTORY was kind of a big deal, especially for Kiss fans, to have a three-hour documentary aired at prime-time on a major network, so I choose to review it.

The show starts with the opening night on ‘The End Of The Road Tour, in late January in 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.   Kiss really likes Vancouver for some reason.  They did the Millennium Concert (ALIVE V) there as well.

Then we cut to Gene and Paul visiting Electric Lady studio in NYC where it all the camera follows them around as they tour the studio, reminisce and look at memorabilia.  As they settle in the two friends look comfortable and relaxed, Paul in bare feet lounging on a couch as they talk about their relationship, the old days, the various members and the multi-year victory lap they are currently on. Gene and Paul were introspective and Gene was surprisingly humble and modest.  Thankfully the whole thing avoids coming across as a giant commercial for the ‘End Of The Road Tour’.

One minor complaint is that there is quite a bit of stock footage and it does play to the lowest common denominator, or more fairly, mainstream A&E viewers who maybe only know a little bit about Kiss. I found there was very little new information or trivia that I learned,  but over a leisurely three hours the bands history gets well covered.

For the most part the doc did not just focus on the old days or pander to the glory of the past, but it did fall a bit short and stop at PSYCHO CIRCUS. This was a long time ago but since then only SONIC BOOM and MONSTER came out and they are omitted completely.  There is lots of discussion about the various comings and goings of various members and the documentary does have a prominent disclaimer that Ace And Peter declined to participate.  Their loss in my opinion.  There are plenty of other willing people on board, aside the from Gene and Paul, Eric and Tommy get face-time as does Bob Erin and Doc McGhee.  We also get some enthusiastic endorsements from some popular modern rock stars.

It was billed as four hours long but when you cut out the commercials it was really only about three hours long. Even so, it never felt too long, I watched it in one sitting and really enjoyed looking back.   If there was ever TV show that needs to put out on DVD this is it. KISSTORY has it all from beginners to those who gotta have everything. Time well spent.